Thursday, April 17, 2008 | 2 a.m
At the end of Paseo Verde Parkway in Henderson, behind the apartment complexes, beautiful houses, and the occasional dirty lot, there’s something half-finished.
It’s the real estate boom in Las Vegas that manifests itself in the boxy, cream-colored shape of the Vantage Lofts. Just look south as you pass Gibson Road on Interstate 215. You will see her sitting there and boarded up.
Vantage Lofts was proposed in 2005, a period what a real estate analyst described as “irrational exuberance” when it seemed like nothing could fail in Las Vegas. Banks gave loans and shoppers bought, lured into Vantage Lofts’ case by the promise of expansive views of the Strip for those who could afford it.
“If you had the money, why not?” said real estate analyst John Restrepo, principal of Restrepo Consulting Group.
Now, a year after the $ 160 million Vantage Lofts were about to open to fanfare and become a symbol of the changing architecture of Las Vegas, it’s a symbol of something else – a south-facing hardware store.
The door to the Vantage Lofts sales office that was closed earlier this year has been replaced with plywood. No worker moves beyond the chain link fence, where an empty, cream-colored hull – with an exterior more like an office or warehouse building than a swanky apartment complex – stands out clearly against the mountains.
Priced between $ 400,000 and $ 1.6 million, the condos don’t seem anywhere near ready for poolside lounge parties. And for now there won’t be any “breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and the legendary Las Vegas skyline” that were promised in the sales brochures.
Only the developers know how many units have been sold and what will happen to the high deposits if construction comes to a permanent halt.
Vantage Lofts is – or was – an innovative project for the Las Vegas Valley. The urban architecture was either a spectacular departure from the red roofs and stucco seen in almost every neighborhood, or a style that clashed with everything around it, depending on your taste.
But even during the boom, real estate analysts suggested that only 25 percent of the 79,000 condos advertised across the valley would actually be built in the next five years. Today it seems doubtful that Vantage Lofts will be among them.
“People were talking about whether all of these projects would be completed,” said Dennis Smith, real estate analyst and president of Home Builders Research. “I am not suprised.”
Vantage Lofts is being built by Slade Development, a longtime Las Vegas company run by Stacy Slade and his sons Chad and Justin.
They posed for pictures during the project’s prime and enjoyed the hype of leading the suburban urbanization trend.
“I finally understood his vision (Justin Slades),” Stacy Slade told Sun’s sister publication In Business in 2006. “There are so many growth factors in the valley – the size of the city and the type of employment … (that) lends itself to more urban life.”
Two years later, Stacy Slade didn’t return calls to discuss the future of the project, despite last month’s published reports blaming the dwindling market for the slowdown in sales. But he also expects the project to be completed.
Slade Development originally planned to open the condominiums in early 2007. However, it was a bad sign when the sales office didn’t open until June 2007.
In July, the company promoted the opening of model units in October. According to Stacy Slade, there were delays at the time due to changes in lending, a shortage of labor for subcontractors, and issues with the city over design and construction components.
Now the fate of the project is unclear.
Restrepo said condominium projects like Vantage Lofts will find their home once lenders and developers work together to adjust funding. After all, nobody makes money when a building is empty.
Restrepo has not glossed over the situation and has used real estate language when things are going bad.
“Everyone,” he said, “will have to have a haircut.”